A Tuesday Ten: Special Gifts

Gift-giving is pretty popular this time of year, so I thought I’d take a tour of books with significant gifts given of a speculative nature.  What one would you like–or not like–to recieve?


The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo (Orchard Books, c1986)

In this first book in the The Magician Trilogy, young Gwyn receives five strange gifts from his grandmother on his 9th birthday: a brooch, a piece of dried seaweed, a tin whistle, a scarf, and a broken toy horse.  Each of these gifts is meant to help guide him on his path to becoming a magician–a power that he’s inherited.  But what they are for and how Gwyn can use them?  That’s up to Gwyn to figure out . . .


Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Scholastic, c1997)

Fairies are known for giving gifts to unsuspecting babies on the advent of their Christenings. Ella received the “gift” of obedience when she was born.  Any thing she’s told to do, she’s compelled to do it–whether she wishes it or no.  Thus Ella grows up fighting the enchantment at every turn, doing her best to be willful and in control of her own life.  Her dream is to one day break the spell she’s under, but to do that may cause her to give up everything she’s ever wanted.


The Silver Glove by Suzy McKee Charnas (Delacorte, c1988)

The second book in the Sorcery Hall Trilogy.  In this urban fantasy tale, Valentine Marsh knows that magical powers exist, and that her grandmother has them.   Her grandmother’s phone call and the gift of a magical silver glove bring her ordinary life into the direct path of the magical world.  Val’s mother is in danger and her grandmother’s mysterious gift may be the only way to save her.


The Secrets of Eastcliffe-by-the-Sea by Eileen Beha (Beach Lane Books, August 2014)

This lightly fantastic story is told through the perspective of the gift himself.  Throckmorton S. Monkey is a special sock monkey given to young Annaliese.  He’s one of several special sock monkeys made by Great Grand Mama Easterling for her many family members and heirs.  Those self-same sock monkeys have been invited to a birthday party in her honor–but secrets and scandals abound!  What can one sock monkey do?



What the Witch Left by Ruth Chew (Random House Books, c1973)

A little round mirror with a tarnished silver frame,
A long bathrobe with a hood,
A pair of gloves,
A pair of red rubber boots,
An old metal box with the picture of a fruitcake on the lid.

These are the things in the drawer unlocked by a special key.  Someone has left these items behind so that Katy and Louise may have their own magical adventures.


The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye (Doubleday, c1980)

While fairy Christening gifts can be dubious.  Sometimes they work out for the best.  Princess Amy was gifted to be ordinary–which is an extraordinary thing for a princess!  Brown haired, freckled and preferring romps in the woodlands to princessy behavior, Amy is not at all what her parents would desire, but she’s plenty happy with herself. Can she find someone who appreciates the gift she’s been given?


The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith (HarperCollins, c1872)

In this story, Princess Irene receives a fire opal ring from her fey “grandmother”–a mysterious woman who lives in a high tower and eats pigeon eggs.   The ring has a magical thread attached that is part of an entire ball of the stuff that the woman spun for her.  The princess is told to keep the ring on and if she’s in danger, she’s to find the thread attached to it and follow where it will lead, because it will ultimately lead back to her and safety.


Ghoulish Song by William Alexander (Margaret K. McElderry, 2013)

Kaile’s gift is not a nice one.  She gets given a bone flute by a goblin troupe, but when she plays it, it only plays a haunting song–one that separates her from her shadow.  Those without a shadow are considered dead, but Kaile is very much still alive.  How can she undo the curse of the bone flute, regain her shadow, and regain her life?


Bright Shadow by Avi (Turtleback, c1985)

Some gifts may seem wondrous but turn into great burdens.  This odd story is about a girl given a dying wizard’s five wishes of power.  They can be used for anything, but when the last wish is used up, so will Morwenna’s life.  The twelve-year-old scullery maid has little interest in powers and politics, but cares deeply for her friend.  When wish after wish goes awry, the ultimate choice is painful.


The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (Ace, c1982)

Harry is abducted by a desert prince and is fated to be the warrior that will possibly save his kingdom from the evil that approaches.  But to win the day, an awkward girl will have to adjust to a new world, the skills of a warrior and the destiny awaiting her.  One of my favorite swords from fiction is also the title of this book, and it’s given to Harry when she wins in the trials.  Gonturan is a magical blue sword wielded mainly by women and capable of quite a bit of magic.

There are just a few gifts–what are some of your favorites?

About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on December 27, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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